Review of SYRE by Jaden Smith

The opening of the album is the only presence of the feminine in the entire project, save for the few brief words of a doctor announcing that SYRE has “died before”. A shallow reading would believe that SYRE is about dreams, but in fact, it is about reincarnation. Moreso, it is about surviving one’s death, and proving oneself in a world that may as well be the afterlife after the feminine oracle deserts it, abandoning SYRE to his own devices. The fact that the female voice opens the album and then vanishes is no coincidence – it is itself the story of creation, the divine logos of the gnostic Goddess Sophia who leaves SYRE, or Adam, to fend for himself in the world.

How does SYRE respond? By drumming up unfocused power, myth and fury. The second song’s hook, “I could put you on a wave” is one of the finest of the year, and evokes the ocean, the youthful SYRE riding the waves that have made the Goddess leave the world and his life. Man, in the absence of light, can only create ‘waves’. The album is about the afterlife, and successive cycles of terrestrial motion, a celebration broken by a lengthily conscious verse, a narcissistic airing of grievances, only to return once again to the booming celebration of the wave. SYRE alternates between his conscious denial of life and his unconscious love of its primeval forces.

By this point in the album, we have only covered the first two tracks. They are part of an enormous 13-minute song titled BLUE, broken into four parts while flowing continuously through as one unbroken tide of feeling. This is not a breakup album, but an album about the divorce between the prodigal son and the Mary-Sophia figure of the complete feminine. The entirety of BLUE rushes and roars between moments of utter self-affirmation, conscious reflection, melancholic regret and unmediated rage. The prodigal son stirs up motions in the sea, furious at his fallen state, yearning for the clockwork perfection of the mother. But as the clock winds down, only the fall, and absence, awaits.

It is my suspicion that Jaden Smith fought tail and nail to remain in the womb as a fetus. He is often mocked for his comments on social media, and his general air of self-created ‘wokeness’, but more than someone who likes to talk, he approaches me in SYRE as someone who believes there is too much to say, and so he says nothing. Jaden Smith is an avatar of the age – the young man born into riches and prestige, who, in conflict with the realities of the fallen world, becomes a walking contradiction. He knows this. He knows that the world is not what it should be, and yet powerless to change it, he makes music. He speaks through abstractions, and outside of that selective speaking, he falls silent.

The strength of the album is not necessarily based on what Jaden says, but on how he presents himself in the context of this grand severing of the young boy from the desired place – beside the throne of the divine feminine in the pre-fallen virgin nature that existed before cruel Yahweh parted the waters of existence and invented the ocean, from which ooze and being would soon grow, and evolve, along the serpentine tree of life, into an organism conscious of its alienation from the spiritual world – humankind.

Consciousness is exactly the problem – for us, and for Jaden Smith. Jaden, or SYRE, as the two are each other’s perennial twin, wishes to be enlightened, but the structure of everyday life rejects enlightenment. If you meet a man who claims to be enlightened, the first rule of order is to be intensely skeptical. Smith, who is wounded with an inborn craving for truth, (a consequence of the divine feminine abandoning the young prodigal son) is mocked for seeking truth. Because he ventures into territory of conspiracy and a few easily-mocked Tweets, his desire to become enlightened makes him the butt of a cultural joke. Being willingly unconscious, and foolish, is perceived as more noble and authentic than seeking ‘truth’ along faulty grounds.

To be conscious that nature is fallen is to accept a trap – I can be good, but I cannot be better than the world. Given the tendency of the world towards shadow, and the dark pit that bleeds from men’s hearts into hell itself, what can we then aspire to? To be human, as those Chinese-finger-trap philosophers, the existentialists, understood, is to lose. There is nothing more human than to lose, and SYRE has lost love itself before the album even begins.

In the bleeding-beautiful minimalism of the song Batman, Smith laments the fallen state of the material world with tragic clarity. Echoing the hook of Drake and Future’s iconic Jumpman, Smith engages repetition while destroying the myth of the vigilante vanguard: “You was protecting the bank, then you walked off with a mil.” Batman is a lamentation of the impure myth in its purest form.

Perhaps Icon is my favorite song. A wailing banger of classic proportions, the kind of beat you would expect to be killed by Jay-Z, creates a marble column of testament to the will of fallen mankind. The sheer bravado of Icon and Watch Me, following the mood of Batman, is the resurgence of the male ego against the recognition that all that is ‘male’ is now stale and old. Batman, the Romans and Yahweh himself no longer form the connective tissue of the psyche of collective humankind. Instead, Jaden Smith yearns for the transcendental, is mocked, and makes music to prove that novelty still exists.

The Passion is a song that no one could truly expect. Any rapper who happened to create it would have stumbled upon a kind of philosopher’s stone. On a wobbling beat whose rippling edges could fall off into insanity, Smith’s performance when he croons “Watch me hit them guitar notes/I just need me a model/Reincarnation’s the motto” is simply genius. You must hear the song to understand. And the hook! The otherworldly nature of the hook makes the song immense fun, until finally, it fades into a minute-long ending of the saddest low-fi piano music conceivable. In fact, Jaden begs: “SYRE, don’t do this”. Don’t go there – don’t do it to yourself. But the oscillation between inconsolable depression and the vibrant young male persona is a constant. The following song, George Jeff, well…if anyone dislikes George Jeff, they’re absolutely lost (The hardest lyric of the album is here: “I’d kill myself to resurrect”).

Lastly, consider the album art. The carefree black boy, lying on the green panorama, gazing into the pink sunset. SYRE is the incarnation of the dream – the afterlife of a boy killed by his Sophia figure. SYRE died before the album began. SYRE’s existence does not matter – SYRE is Jaden, and Jaden is Adam, and Adam is the lonely prodigal son. The intention and the beauty of SYRE is toward timelessness. Jaden Smith, this year, has voice acted in an anime, released this album, and will soon make a film about the life of SYRE. He is a polymathic talent, and aspires toward aeon.

He is “George Jefferson/the male Maleficent”. The aspiration toward the androgyne is an attempt to recreate the Sophia on fallen Earth. The male who is also female is the realization of the Holy Trinity become six – no longer Father, Son, Holy Spirit, but the three in conjunction with Mother, Daughter, Holy Soul. The Egyptians understood this, when they sculpted the sphinx, who is split between the Greek and the Egyptian as an androgyne.

SYRE is everything I could want in an album, and I look forward to the moves of Jaden Smith in the decades to come.

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